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Online trolls really are losers

August 04, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Dr Search, Gaming, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

New research has found that men who harass women online are actual losers – at least when it comes to video games.

Online trolls really are losersTwo researchers analysed how men treated women while playing 163 games of Halo 3.

Men who performed poorly in the games responded by being hostile to female players- and were more likely to bully female players.

The male winners were mostly pleasant to other players, while the losing men made unsavoury comments to female players.

“Low-status males that have the most to lose due to a hierarchical reconfiguration are responding to the threat female competitors pose,” the researchers, from the University of New South Wales and the Miami University in Ohio, write. “High-status males with the least to fear were more positive.”

In Halo 3, players are anonymous and only interact with each other by voice a few times during the game. Most Halo players are men.

When performing poorly, players increased negative statements toward women and submissive statements toward the men who were winning.

“As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance,” the researchers write.

Male players were thrown off by hearing female voices during the game. The researchers think their results suggest that young males should be taught that losing to women is not “socially debilitating”.

The results also suggest that video games may be reinforcing gender segregation and potentially promoting sexist behaviours, especially troubling since so many “gamers” are teenagers.

Microsoft releases program to spot abuse images

July 27, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cloud Computing, Dr Search, Microsoft, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has released a free program that lets website owners spot when images of child abuse are being shared by users.

Microsoft has released a free program that lets website owners spot when images of child abuse are being shared by usersMicrosoft said that it had made the PhotoDNA tool available to tackle the 720,000 abuse images uploaded to the net every day. Many large social media networks are already using PhotoDNA to police uploaded images

Police forces, anti-abuse organisations and large social networks have been using the tool for some time to dig out the illegal images.

Microsoft said the online tool was for small firms that lack the resources to do image-checking themselves.

Spotting abuse images among the 1.8 billion pictures uploaded to online services every day was an almost impossible task, said Courtney Gregoire, a senior lawyer at Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit in a blogpost outlining the initiative.

While many large social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Flipboard were already using PhotoDNA, before now it had not been available to smaller online services, she said.

“We needed an easier, more scalable way to identify and detect these worst-of-the-worst images,” said Ms Gregoire.

The PhotoDNA system has been used to analyse and classify images of child sexual abuse held by Interpol, police forces and the US National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

The technology generates a signature or hash for each image that can be compared with any new image to see if there is a match. It can spot images it has seen before even if they are cropped or otherwise manipulated to avoid detection systems.

Many of the images shared online have been seen before and spotting people trading them can help police forces unearth abusers previously unknown to them.

The free service puts PhotoDNA in the cloud and lets websites check images uploaded by users.

Should BT be split?

July 14, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BT.

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BTOpenreach is the “utility” bit of BT- which is the delivery mechanism for broadband to millions of customers.

Think Network Rail owning the railways bit of the train network, or National Grid owning the electricity grid which delivers power to our home.

Openreach is virtually a monopoly service, with Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin and others obliged to pay BT for access to the broadband “pipes”.

And as such it is heavily regulated already- although according to John Fingleton, the former head of the Office of Fair Trading- the “enormously profitable” Openreach would be likely to perform better as a standalone company.

Mr Fingleton argues that a separate Openreach would be likely to invest more in improving broadband connections.

As an example he cites Worldpay, a former division of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Worldpay operates a “plumbing business” for banks – providing payment services for card transactions and mobile phones.

Since RBS sold it, as a condition of the bank’s taxpayer bailout in 2008, its new private equity owners, Bain and Advent, have significantly increased investment.

Many believe that Openreach would travel the same route, and the amount invested in it as a standalone business would be more than the present £1 billion BT provides each year.

It could also mean accelerated investment in changing the network from the older copper network to “super-fast” fibre.

To enforce a sale, BT’s ownership of Openreach would probably need to be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority which has more muscle in this area than Ofcom.

Mr Fingleton agrees this is the best route to decide whether Openreach would be better out of BT’s hands.

Sky – of course a major competitor to BT – concurs, calling this morning for a referral to the CMA.

It says that BT’s performance on broadband delivery leaves a lot to be desired, and that under investment means that appointments to connect its customers to broadband are often missed and that faults regularly remain unfixed.

Sky and BT don’t like each other very much, particularly since the latter took a healthy portion of Sky’s lunch by piling into sports television and winning the rights to broadcast Premier League matches.

There are dark mutterings that BT uses the vast profits from Openreach to fund its incursion into television, a claim the company hotly denies.

BT insists that Openreach’s service has improved, with 2,500 engineers added in the last year and 700 more coming this year. It says it reaches or exceeds all of the 60 service targets set it by Ofcom.

And that it is only because of BT’s large and healthy balance sheet that so much investment has been made in upgrading the network to super-fast broadband.

What won’t be superfast is the Ofcom process. This is just the latest stage in a far wider review of the UK’s digital market which will take months to conclude and years to implement.

More UK people using internet

June 01, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Dr Search, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

More people are using the Internet in the UK- according to official statistics.

More people are using the Internet in the UK- according to official statistisIn the first quarter (Jan to Mar) 2015, 86% of adults (44.7 million) in the UK had used the internet in the last 3 months (recent users), an increase of 1 percentage point since the quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2014 estimate of 85%.

11% of adults (5.9 million) had never used the internet, falling by 1 percentage point since quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2014.

The South East had the highest proportion of recent internet users (90%) and Northern Ireland was the area with the lowest proportion (80%).

In quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2015, the proportion of adults who were recent internet users was lower for those that were disabled (68%), compared with those that were not disabled (92%).

In quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2015 the proportion of adults aged 16 to 24 years who were recent internet users was lower for those that were disabled (95% recent users) compared with those that were not disabled (99% recent users).

The proportion of adults aged 75 years and over who were recent internet users was also lower for those that were disabled (27% recent users) compared with those that were not disabled (40% recent users).

Moral of the story is that if you are a business, you want more business- and you are not on the Internet you are missing a trick.

So if you need help with making money online then please contact us now either by clicking the contact us button or ring us 01242 521967:contact search clinic

FBI warns on airline hacking threat

May 23, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Cyber Security, data security, Hackers, Search Clinic, Technology Companies

The USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a formal alert warning airlines to be on the lookout for hackers.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a formal alert warning airlines to be on the lookout for hackersIt follows an onboard tweet from security expert Chris Roberts, who joked about being able to hack into a United Airlines plane’s wi-fi network.

A terrorist could theoretically take over systems that fly a plane by compromising equipment at their seat as an increasing number of airlines are offering onboard wi-fi to customers.

The FBI and the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said they had no information to support claims a plane’s navigation system could be interfered via its onboard wi-fi kit, but added that they were evaluating the evidence.

In a private industry notification posted on its website and reported by Wired magazine, the FBI advised airlines to:

  • report any suspicious activity involving travellers connecting unknown cables or wires to the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system
  • report any evidence of suspicious behaviour following a flight, such as IFE systems that show evidence of tampering or the forced removal of covers to network connection ports
  • report any evidence of suspicious behaviour concerning aviation wireless signals, including social media messages with threatening references to onboard network systems, automatic dependent surveillance systems (ADS-B), aircraft communications addressing and reporting systems (ACARS) and air traffic control networks
  • review network logs from aircraft to ensure any suspicious activity, such as network scanning or intrusion attempts, would be captured for further analysis

In his tweet, Mr Roberts suggested that he might be able to deploy the oxygen masks on the flight.

Chris Roberts’s tweet:

On arrival at Syracuse airport, Mr Roberts – who is co-founder of security company One World Labs – was taken in for questioning by the FBI, and his laptop and other devices were seized.

A few days later, he was prevented from boarding a flight to California.

He had previously given a number of interviews, explaining the possible weak points in airline systems, telling CNN that he could connect to a computer under his seat to view data from the aircraft’s engines, fuel and flight-management systems.

Security experts have warned for some years that airlines are a possible target for hackers.

Planes including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus 350 and A380 have a single network that is used by both pilots to fly the plane and by passengers for their wi-fi connections.

Although there were currently no publicly known vulnerabilities that a hacker could exploit, such an attack remained “theoretically possible” because all networks were inherently insecure.

Wi-fi is now common on many airlines, and most have relaxed the rules surrounding the use of gadgets during flights.

Twitter launches anti cyberbully policy

April 27, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Personal Security, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Twitter, Uncategorized

Twitter is to launch an anti cyberbully policy to act against violent threats as part of renewed efforts to tackle abuse.

Twitter launches anti cyberbully policyTwitter has acknowledged that its previous rules, which said a threat needed to be “direct” and “specific” to justify its intervention, had been too “narrow”.

The firm will still require a complaint to be made before it blocks an account, but it said it was also attempting to automatically make a wider range of abusive tweets less prominent.

The problem is not limited to Twitter – in March, a study of 1,000 UK-based 13 to 17 year olds by broadband provider Europasat indicated that nearly half of those surveyed had been sent abusive messages over the internet.

In February, Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo highlighted the issue when he sent a memo to staff telling them that “we suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years”.

Twitter’s rules now state that it may act after being alerted to tweets that contain “threats of violence against others or promote violence against others”.

Twitter will tell some abusers to verify their phone number and delete several tweets before lifting a temporary ban.

By making its criteria more vague than before, the platform can now intervene if, for example, someone says that a victim ought to be beaten up.

It had previously required the aggressor to have provided specific details, such as the fact they planned to commit the act using a baseball bat at the victim’s place of work, before it would respond.

“Our previous policy was unduly narrow, and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behaviour,” wrote Shreyas Doshi, Twitter’s director of product management, on the firm’s blog.

“The updated language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse.”

In addition, Twitter will begin freezing some abusers’ accounts for set amounts of time, allowing those affected to see the remaining duration via its app. Abusers may also be required to verify their phone number and delete all their previous offending tweets in order to get their account unlocked.

The firm said it could use this facility to calm situations in which a person or organisation came under attack from several people at once, where it might not be appropriate to enforce permanent bans on all involved.

While such decisions would be taken by Twitter’s staff, the company said it had also started using software to identify tweets that might be abusive, based on “a wide range of signals and context”.

Such posts will be prevented from appearing in people’s feeds without ever having been checked by a human being. However, they will still show up in searches and remain subject to the existing complaints procedure.

A side-effect of this could be that some abusive tweets become harder to detect.

The UK Safer Internet Centre, which represents a number of campaign bodies, welcomed the move.

“These are really good steps,” said Laura Higgins, the organisation’s online safety operations manager.

“Regrettably some people might fall foul of bad behaviour before Twitter can put some of these safeguards in place, but at least it is always looking for new solutions.”

“In cases when there is massive amounts of abuse and it’s all of a similar theme, I think the new system will be good at picking it up, and that’s great. But it would be good to hear what will happen to that data once Twitter has it.”

The announcements build on other recent changes made by Twitter, including hiring more workers to handle abuse reports and letting third parties flag abuse.

Search Clinic repeats the link to How to Report a Tweet or Direct Message for violations

Google profits increased by PPC sales

April 25, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Dr Search, Google, Pay Per Click, Pay Per Click Advertising, Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Clinic, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Results, Uncategorized

Google has reported a 4% increase in profits to £2.38 billion, as strong PPC advertising sales helped boost the firm’s accounts.

Google reported a 4% increase in profits to £2.38 billion, as strong advertising salesGoogle said advertising sales for the first three months of 2015 were £10 billion, an 11% increase from the same period a year earlier.

Total revenue also increased by 12% to £11.53 billion, but like other US firms, the company was hurt by the strong dollar.

Shares in the firm rose more than 3% in trading after markets had closed.

There had been fears on Wall Street that profits would be weaker due to investment in new businesses and weaker advertising revenue as more people access Google via mobile devices, where advertising rates are lower.

But the fears turned out to be unfounded – a fall in the average price of an advert was offset by an increase in the number of adverts.

In a statement accompanying the results, chief financial officer Patrick Pichette said the company continued “to see great momentum in our mobile advertising business and opportunities with brand advertisers”.

However, Google did suffer from the stronger dollar. Taking out the impact of currency movements, Mr Pichette said revenue grew by 17% in the quarter compared with a year earlier.

The results also showed the firm continued hire new staff at a high rate, with employee numbers up 9,000 over the past year.

Facebook reports slow growth and higher costs

April 23, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Facebook, internet, Pay Per Click, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies

Facebook shares fell after the company reported slower revenue growth, while research and development costs ate into profits.

Facebook reports slow growth and higher costsThe social networking company said profit in the first quarter of 2015 was £341 million, down 20% on a year earlier.

While revenue rose 42% to £2.33 billion- that was slightly below analysts’ forecasts. A bright spot was the rise in monthly active users, up 13% from a year earlier to 1.44 billion.

Notably, for those investors concerned about the firm’s efforts to appeal to younger users who access Facebook on their smartphones, monthly mobile users increased by 24% to 1.25 billion, a majority of the site’s users.

Facebook has been particularly adept at channelling that growing mobile user base into advertising dollars.

The company said that during the quarter, revenue from mobile ad sales made up nearly three quarters of total ad sales.

“This was a strong start to the year,” said founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in a statement.

Investors have been worried about slowing revenue growth, as well as increasing costs at the company. Facebook has been spending more on research and development as it moves beyond its original social networking operation.

Spending on research and development jumped to £377 million from £120 million a year earlier.

The company has warned that those costs are set to increase, as it looks to expand some of its acquisitions including photo-sharing site Instagram, messaging service WhatsApp, and virtual reality firm Oculus Rift.

The trends are all going in the right direction. The cost rise is one thing that can derail this story. The question is, can they keep costs under control and what will be the new revenue streams around video, Instagram and virtual reality around Oculus?

Google’s mobilegeddon for non responsive websites

April 20, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Google, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Search Clinic, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, search engines, SEO, smart phones, Uncategorized

Google is launching “mobilegeddon” by making changes to the way its search engines ranks websites.

Google’s mobilegeddon for non responsive websitesGoogle regularly changes its algorithms as it battles with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialists who try to understand the system on behalf of their clients and ongoing technical changes.

But this is a big change – dubbed “mobilegeddon”- which is designed to prioritise websites that are optimised for the mobile internet.

Google gave plenty of warning, telling developers about the change in a blog post in February and providing a simple tool to check whether sites were mobile friendly.

The search firm is trying to reassure website owners that this won’t be an earthquake which turns their businesses upside down but quite a subtle evolution.

But SEO specialists say this looks like the biggest change since 2011 – and for some that will unearth some unpleasant memories.

For any online retailer, appearing on page one of Google’s search results can make all the difference between a profitable business and one heading for the scrapyard

Google’s move to make mobile capabilities more important in search rankings seems eminently sensible as our smart phones and tablets become the key route to finding goods and services online.

But over the next few weeks we can expect cries of pain from those whom the all powerful search algorithm has deemed less worthy.

And, coming just days after the European Commission accused Google of abusing its dominance, it will be another illustration of just how important a role the Californian company plays in every corner of the global economy.

So if you need help with optimising my website then please contact us now either by clicking the contact us button or ring us 01242 521967:contact search clinic

Moores Law still stands- after 50 years

April 10, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Computer chips are both the most complex things ever mass produced by humans and the most disruptive to our lives.

It noted that the maximum number of components that manufacturers could "cram" onto a sliver of siliconSo it’s remarkable that the extraordinary pace they have evolved at was in large part influenced by a three page article published 50 years ago this month.

It theorised that the maximum number of components that manufacturers could “cram” onto a sliver of silicon – before which the rising risk of failure made it uneconomic to add more – was doubling at a regular pace every two years.

Its author, Gordon Moore, suggested this could be extrapolated to forecast the rate at which more complicated chips could be built at affordable costs.

The insight – later referred to as Moore’s Law – became the bedrock for the computer processor industry, giving engineers and their managers a target to hit.

Intel – the firm Mr Moore went on to co-found – says the law will have an even more dramatic impact on the next 20 years than the last five decades put together.

Although dubbed a “law”, computing’s pace of change has been driven by human ingenuity rather than any fixed rule of physics.

“Moore’s observation” would be a more accurate, if less dramatic, term. In fact, the rule itself has changed over time.

Mr Moore’s article predicted a time when computers would be sold alongside other consumer goods.

While Moore’s 1965 paper talked of the number of “elements” on a circuit doubling every year, he later revised this a couple of times, ultimately stating that the number of transistors in a chip would double approximately every 24 months.

For most people, imagining exponential growth – in which something rapidly increases at a set rate in proportion to its size, for example doubles every time – is much harder than linear growth – in which the same amount is repeatedly added.

Moore retired in 1997, but Intel still follows his lead.

In 2013, the firm’s ex-chief architect Bob Colwell made headlines when he predicted Moore’s Law would be “dead” by 2022 at the latest.

The issue, he explained, was that it was difficult to shrink transistors beyond a certain point.

Specifically, he said it would be impossible to justify the costs required to reduce the length of a transistor part, known as its gate, to less than 5nm (1nm = one billionth of a metre).

In simple terms, a transistor is a kind of tiny switch that is triggered by an electrical signal. By turning them on and off at high speeds, computers are able to amplify and switch electronic signals and electrical power, making it possible for them to carry out the calculations needed to run software.